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Incarnational New Year

It’s a malady that comes upon most of us every year, about this time: the compulsion to change something about our lives, through the peculiar exercise known as the New Year’s Resolution.

Rarely does it work: at least not in any instantaneous way.  There’s nothing magic about taking down one wall calendar and putting up another.  Real change — change that matters — takes time.  It typically proceeds by the cadence of “two steps forward, one step back.”  It demands bucketloads of support from others.  Still, that clean expanse of numbered white boxes — unsullied by the scribblings, cross-outs and erasures of a year of labored living — promises fresh opportunity and renewed hope.

When Jesus came to earth, “the Word became flesh and lived among us.”  The Word: clean, pure, elemental.  Living among us: yes, even us.  Human words are a forgettable cacophony of trivia, curses, one-upmanship and pleas for attention. Yet, the Word of God is like that first event inscribed on a pristine calendar-page.  There it is, arresting the eye.  No doubt.  No distraction.  No ambiguity.

It’s no wonder the church has struggled, over the centuries, to capture the miracle of Jesus’ incarnation in human terms.  We never quite succeed.  Our words only sag and break under the weight of sheer divinity — and true humanity.

In the incarnation, God gives us not mere words, but The Word.  Resolving, in this new year, to know that singular Word better could make all the difference.

- Carlos Wilton, contribution to Homiletics, January 2011